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Falling Back, Not Falling Down

The dreaded “fall back” time change—how can just one hour mess so much with your body’s 24-hour natural cycle?

Just like animals, our bodies function on a circadian rhythm. Our body is in its most natural circadian rhythm when it rises and sets with the sun. It’s thrown off balance when the time is adjusted, even by just one hour. In fact, it can take 7–10 days to adjust. Not only are we adjusting the times that we wake up and fall asleep, but also when we go to work, when we eat our meals, and when we perform all our daily activities. 

We are also transitioning from pitta to vata season, where everything gets airy and light. Leaves are drying up and falling off the trees and the wind begins to kick up. With a lot of change already happening, the rolling back of our clocks can make some people more susceptible to imbalance. Because this is already a time of year when people are vulnerable to illness, it’s especially important to take care of yourself. Here are some tips to stay standing during this fall time change:

  1. Go to bed a little bit earlier. Your body will feel tired at 9:00 pm because it thinks it’s 10:00 pm; listen and make sure to get extra rest during this time.
  2. Continue to wake up by 6:00 am, It’s easy to start sleeping in a little bit later when it’s chilly outside but it’s important to continue to stay in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm.
  3. Shift your meals times to 15–20 minutes earlier over the next few days so your body has time to adjust.
  4. Eat home-cooked warm meals of more nutrient dense foods. Make sure you’re eating a lot of vegetables.
  5. Limit sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. These increase vata and potentially create more vulnerability to the immune system at this time of year.
  6. Get outside when the sun is out. Consider taking walks in the afternoon—vitamin D is important in immunity.
  7. Cover those ears if it’s windy out and wear a scarf to keep your neck and chest warm.
  8. Spend time with friends and family. The love of those close to us can help provide grounding.
  9. Try an earthly, grounding, vata-balancing yoga sequence; a sequence that works the lower back and thighs like Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, Warrior I, Warrior II, and forward bends.
  10. Use extra oils on your skin and in your food. Since this is a dry time of year, it’s important to include oily unctuous in our foods and daily routines.
  11. Sip hot beverages like ginger tea to create warmth within the body. Vata is cold, so we want to make sure to stay as warm as possible during the transition.
  12. Be sure to incorporate meditation into your daily routine if it’s not part of your regimen  already. Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) can be useful this type of year as it is very rhythmic, soothing, and grounding. 

All these things will help stop the airy, windy, dry season of vata from knocking you off your feet,  leaving you unbalanced or ill.